To the uninitiated, Bjork is that odd woman who wore the swan dress to the Oscars and was then mocked by comedians for years afterward. But as Iceland’s best-known export, Bjork has gone from the Sugarcubes’ pixieish frontwoman to the godmother of alt-pop, and her recently released album “Volta” further solidifies her stature.
Fans will note the new disc, with help from Timbaland and Antony Hegarty, trods some new ground from earlier vocal-only works, while also reflecting the world’s current political climate. It also has spawned a modest hit, “Earth Intruders,” which in April became the first Bjork single in 13 years to nab a spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Expectedly, the position was mostly a result of download sales. And although Bjork has typically eschewed the usual album promotion routine, preferring instead to let word of mouth and online activity do the marketing, she recently agreed to the use of her music for ringtones.
“If I were desperate to be mainstream, I would’ve done commercials, I would’ve said ‘yes’ to all this Hollywood music stuff,” Bjork recently told Plan B. “I would’ve spent a month doing an album and 23 months doing media about it.”
Yet Bjork is an incessant touring artist because she enjoys the fan contact. She continues to be a sought-after festival headliner — she recently topped Coachella — in addition to her solo dates.
“We’d almost planned the tour before the album release because I was excited about forming the band and playing live,” Bjork told the Guardian.
Bjork also works closely with UNICEF and will donate a portion of ticket sales off her current tour to the org’s work with babies who have HIV. The gesture continues the relationship she began after the 2004 Indonesia tsunami when she donated proceeds of an album of fans’ remixes of her hit “Army of Me.” Her 2006 visit sparked the “Earth Intruders” track.
“(The song) just came like a tsunami out of my mouth,” she says.
Vocation: “Punk anarchist”
Recent breakthrough: “Earth Intruders” in the top 10 of iTunes downloads
Role model: (Unavailable for comment)
Career mantra: “I believe that my music is for everyone.”
What’s next: “An 18-month world tour.”